LSU’s Leonard Fournette the latest to spark debate over NFL Draft rules

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Get ready for another round of silly debates over what LSU running back Leonard Fournette should do with his football future. Fournette was already a well-known player to those who follow college football recruiting and have been actively watching LSU football, but this past weekend has seen him enter the national spotlight as more of a household name. Fournette’s smashing performance against Auburn, in which he showed superior physical strength and veteran-like awareness and patience to maximize the result of each play has catapulting him to the top of the Heisman charts and NFL folks are paying close attention. Unfortunately, the NFL will not be able to welcome Fournette to the professional ranks due to NFL rules preventing him from joining the league until 2017 at the earliest.

The New York Times published a story on the NFL rules and Fournette on Sunday, citing a guide from the NFL for college football coaches.

“The majority of underclassmen are not physically or mentally prepared to enter the [NFL],” the league states in a guide for college head coaches. “Most would benefit significantly from another year of college football.”

Fournette has suggested players may be physically ready to make the jump, but the mental fortitude is not always ready for that kind of change. It does not matter how physically gifted and crafted you may be if you do not have the mental maturity to handle the responsibilities that come with playing in the NFL.

Most would, of course, but sometimes there could possibly be an exception to that rule. Ohio State’s Maurice Clarett once tried to challenge the NFL rules feeling he was ready for the next level after just one year in Columbus. Fournette may be much more physically prepared than Clarett was at the time, but even he is not likely ready to jump right into the rigors of the NFL just yet. And recent history might suggest coming back for another year is probably best to get more of a sample of what any one player is capable of doing. Just last January NFL types were calling for Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones to leave the Buckeyes and enter the NFL Draft after three career starts (although an incredibly impressive three career starts). Jones returned to the Buckeyes this season and has now been pulled from the starting job just three games into the season.

It was just within the last couple of years national media types were seriously debating whether or not South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney should sit out the regular season and focus on training for the NFL Draft. Clowney, of course, played what would be his final season at South Carolina and went on to be a top draft pick of the Houston Texans in the 2014 NFL Draft. Do not be surprised if some fall into the trap of suggesting Fournette should consider sitting out the 2016 season so he can focus on the draft. The arguments that will be made may actually carry a little more weight than the arguments for Clowney. Running backs have a short life span in the NFL, and coming back from various types of injuries can be far more inhibiting than at other positions, like defensive end.

LSU students will go to class on Saturday to make up for national title game

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LSU students who got to skip class for the national title game (and the ensuing celebrations…) were hit with a dose of reality returning to Baton Rouge on Friday.

According to an announcement from the university, classes that were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday for the championship game have been rescheduled. As a result, students will have to go to class on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 8.

So yes, Saturdays in the fall have resulted in a few Saturdays of work in the spring.

The school had received a bit of criticism when it was announced that classes were cancelled on the dates surrounding the championship game. While the practice has happened elsewhere, the nature of the game being less than an hour from campus in New Orleans certainly made things unique for the Tigers and their large fan base.

While some students no doubt had hoped that the classes at the time were indeed cancelled, it turns out they were in fact just being rescheduled. Going to school on a Saturday probably isn’t what many had in mind when signing up for the spring semester but there’s probably not a soul in purple and gold will take issue with the change given that it comes as a result of hoisting the ultimate football trophy on Monday night in the Big Easy.

Virginia safety Chris Moore enters transfer portal

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The transfer portal has claimed another name.

As first noted by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Virginia safety Chris Moore has entered his name into the database as he explores a move out of Charlottesville.

Moore started five of his nine appearances for the Cavaliers in 2019 and wound up recording 42 tackles. While he was in line to become one of the key members in the secondary going forward, a prior  suspension for violating team rules back in November may have wound up playing a role in his departure and standing with the team.

The safety had previously missed all of the 2018 season with an injury as well.

Moore was originally a three-star recruit out of Ashburn, Va. in 2016 and, assuming the redshirt senior has a degree, likely has a season remaining as a grad transfer.

DL Jay Tufele, WR Tyler Vaughns skipping draft to stay at USC

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Clay Helton has a lot of issues to deal with at the moment. Having a talented USC football team is not one of them.

The Trojans received a rare bit of good news on Thursday evening as two key players announced they were skipping the 2020 NFL Draft. In back-to-back announcements, defensive lineman Jay Tufele and wideout Tyler Vaughns confirmed they would remain in Los Angeles for the 2020 season.

Tufele is one of USC’s best defensive players. He recorded 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as a redshirt sophomore despite dealing with a handful of injuries. With leading sacker Drake Jackson also back, there’s a nice tandem up front for whoever the team hires as defensive coordinator to work with going forward.

Vaughns returning also makes a dangerous receiving corps that much deeper. Michael Pittman Jr. was lost to graduation but the next three top wideouts are set to be back in 2020. Add in a group of solid tailbacks and both J.T. Daniels and Kedon Slovis at QB and USC will once again have one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.

Whether it will all help save Helton’s job again remains to be seen. If nothing else though, there’s at least there’s some positive news for the cardinal and gold this offseason with Tufele and Vaughns back in the fold going forward.

Nebraska and OC Troy Walters “mutually agreed to part ways”

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A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.

In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’

“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.

Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.

The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.